Wigan Warriors Reserves – 12
Tries: Callum Field, Sammy Kibula
Goals: Josh Woods 2/2
St Helens Reserves – 32
Tries: Joe Cator, Liam Cooper, Dave Eccleston, Calvin Wellington, Kevin Brown
Goals: Danny Richardson 6/6
I went to the Wigan v Saints reserve game on Saturday at Robin Park and there are a few players who looked to stand on both teams. One of the biggest differences between the sides seemed to be the experience of the Saints side compared to the Wigan side. If Wigan had a full strength first team available the likes of Bretherton, Forsyth, Marshall, Davies and Gregson would have played on Saturday whereas Saints had the likes of Jack Ashworth, Greg Richards and Danny Richardson in their ranks. In the end it was a comfortable win for St Helens who looked the better side defensively and were far more clinical in attack than Wigan.
One player that stood out during the game was St Helen’s number 6 – Greg Richards. He looked to control the game for the Saints and his attacking kicks caused problems for Gabe Fell and Craig Mullen (who moved to fullback in the second half). Richards looks to be a fantastic talent and a player whom I am sure we will see more of in Super League this season. Jonah Cunningham, son of Saints coach, Kieran, played at 13 rather than his usual hooking spot and looked to be self-assured in the Saints team. A player, like Richards, who looks set for first team opportunities at Saints this year and both look like they could be good additions to the Super League.Embed from Getty Images
On the Wigan side, Gabe Fell, who has a first team jersey this year, made his first appearance since July 2016. He looked to come through the first half with no reoccurring issues of his knee injury that kept him out for so long; he could be another to make a first team appearance at some point this season. However, the two players that impressed me the most from a Wigan point of view, were Josh Ganson and Sammy Kibula. Josh Ganson looks to be an intelligent hooker, he showed good distribution and wasn’t afraid to attack the line when the opportunity arose. Defensively he looked solid, particularly when it came to tackling Jonah Cunningham – there looks to be a bit of history between those two! Originally from St Helens, Ganson looks to be a good prospect and I hope we get to see him in the first team this season, he made the 19-man squad against Hull FC for the first time this season, so Shaun Wane clearly thinks he is close.
Sammy Kibula is a man mountain, every time he carried the ball it took three, four even five players sometimes to get him down. He had a try disallowed early on the game after he intelligently chased a kick through and a repeat of the set move saw him grab an almost identical try later in the game. Kibula, at this level, looks far too big and strong to get a good idea of how he would go in the first team – his biggest asset seems to be his size and strength. It would be interesting to see how he went if he was sent on loan to somewhere like Swinton, playing against mean and bigger bodies will be the big test for Kibula. From what I have seen of him in the 19’s and in the reserves on Saturday, I would say he is not too far away from the first team but at the age of 17, I wouldn’t expect to him there this season. If Kibula continues to improve at the rate he appears to be doing so, I can see him becoming a firm fans favourite when he does get his opportunity in the first team.
The game, played at Robin Park on a glorious Saturday afternoon saw the likes of Wane, Cunningham and Radlinski in attendance, along with what looked like, a couple of hundred fans. Free entry in a ground next to the DW Stadium, appears to be a great alternative to Orrell for the odd weekend game that attracts a good crowd. It would be good to see a few more games at Robin Park during the year.
The full game from the weekend, Wigan Reserves v St Helens Reserves can be viewed over at Wigan TV by clicking here